CONWAY — Conway Scenic Railroad is unusual among the region’s heritage railroads because of its variety of different excursions.
This season it is offering three different excursions that range in length and experience from 1 hour to 4 hours and 40 minutes.
This year Conway Scenic Railroad has commenced operating its flagship Mountaineer excursion a month earlier than in previous years and began with a pair of special runs on Sunday and Monday.
This stylish Art Deco train offers passengers the opportunity to experience the wonderful scenery of Crawford Notch aboard the recreation of a 1950s streamlined train.
The CSRR in 1994 won the bid to lease the Mountain Division from the state after the mountainous tracks had been abandoned by Guildford Transportation Industries in 1983, with the first Notch Train making the run on Sept. 1, 1995.
Two years ago, the Notch Train was rechristened the excursion as “The Mountaineer” because it more accurately describes the true nature of the train and also is more in keeping with the name it was known by when the Boston & Maine ran it from the mid-1940s to early 1950s.
On Sunday, the railroad started the season with a special Railfan Photographer’s Mountaineer. The annual event operated with an earlier than normal boarding time at North Conway to facilitate a schedule that allowed the photographers to disembark at scenic and historic locations along the route and enable them to make images of the train.
A special treat for photographers was the extremely unusual locomotive consist (in train jargon) arranged specifically for this trip. Notably, both of 470 Railroad Club’s restored former Boston & Maine F7A streamlined diesels were assigned along with Conway Scenic Railroad’s former Maine Central GP7 573. All three locomotives were manufactured by General Motors’s Electro-Motive Division and represent classic locomotives of the Post World War II period.
The biggest attraction was B & M 4268, which after decades of static display was restored to active service by the 470 Club. This beautiful antique locomotive made its first revenue runs in April, but Sunday’s trip was its first operation over Crawford Notch for Conway Scenic Railroad, and represented the first time that Conway Scenic had operated all three of these very historic locomotives together on one train.
All three of these diesels wear the classic maroon-and-gold paint scheme designed by General Motors’s Electro-Motive Division in the 1940s, and was the standard paint for diesel-electric locomotives on both Boston & Maine and Maine Central Railroads for many years.
The special Railfan Photographer’s excursion was an enormous success.
Places visited along the line included the site of the historic Mount Willey house and the towering Frankenstein trestle. The response from guests was extremely positive and most were pleased with the photographic opportunities.
On Monday, the railroad operated a Demonstration Mountaineer, on the train’s normal schedule with its typical spring/summer consist and locomotive.
This offered employees, members of the Mount Washington Valley business community and the media the opportunity to experience the train. It was also the debut of the railroad’s new culinary team operated by Cabin Fever of Bartlett.
Regularly scheduled Mountaineer excursions began Tuesday.
The Mountaineer will operate Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through the summer with additional days of operation during the autumn foliage season. This train offers a four-hour, 40-minute experience and boards at North Conway at 1130 a.m.
The railroad is also offering a boarding option at Attitash to enable passengers to travel from Attitash to Crawford and return. Call (603) 356-5251 or check Conway Scenic’s website at conwayscenic.com